Fitch Downgrades Canada's Credit Rating

Fitch Ratings, one of the big three global credit rating agencies, has announced it's downgrading Canada's credit rating from AAA to AA+. This is due to the tremendous debt -- roughly a quarter of a trillion dollars -- the Canadian government took on to prop up the economy during the COVID-19 lockdowns.

Though the Trudeau government was quick to argue that Canada's economy remains strong and that the country in an ideal position to turn things around, this does have the potential to significantly increase the cost of government borrowing and of doing business. That danger, moreover, will be amplified if, as some think, there are further downgrades to come:

David Rosenberg... has been predicting a downgrade on Canada’s sovereign debt since late April and thinks this won’t be the last. “The real question is: What took so long?’ .... Canada’s excessively leveraged national balance sheet has looked a lot like China, Italy and Greece for quite a while.” While Ottawa may appear to be in “solid” financial shape to some, this has “masked bloated debt ratios” in households, business sectors, and most of the provinces, he said. “This won’t be the last ratings cut, I can assure you,” said Rosenberg.

Now, it is true that governments worldwide have responded to the pandemic by racking up what would normally be unthinkable amounts of debt. Consequently, it is likely that Canada won't be the only country to have its rating downgraded.

But one thing that makes Canada unique is the shame that its governing elite feels about one of the pillars of its economy. As Dan McTeague of Canadians for Affordable Energy said the other day in an excellent piece on Erin O'Toole's environmentalist pitch in the CPC leadership contest,

Rather than championing Canada's hydrocarbon industry and creating economic growth with our country’s wealth of natural resources, O’Toole’s policies seem most focused on maintaining the what-seems-to-be-required, green-is-god image of so many politicians.... Our natural resources are an asset to this country, not a liability. They keep energy affordable, and give us one of the highest standards of living. O’Toole and other political candidates seem determined to remain blind to that fact.

You would hope that this turn of events would cause Canada's governing class to thank its lucky stars for the energy sector, a potential launchpad for recovery. But unfortunately they'll probably keep just hoping for pats on the head from similarly green-obsessed organizations like the UN  -- and how's that been working out for them?

Eventually someone is going to have to grow up and start taking things seriously.

Trudeau Loses Bid for Security Council Seat

I must say that I find this hysterical:

Canada loses bid for seat on UN Security Council

The Liberal government lost a four–year bid for a UN Security Council seat Wednesday, a humbling experience after a high-profile campaign led by the prime minister. Canada finished third, behind Norway and Ireland in the race for two seats on the Security Council. After the vote Justin Trudeau... said it had been a worthwhile exercise. “We listened and learned from other countries, which opened new doors for cooperation to address global challenges, and we created new partnerships that increased Canada’s place in the world,” he said.

Uh-huh. As if, had it gone the other way, we wouldn't all have been subjected to the incessant bleating of "Canada's back!" from the loyal Trudeaupians in the Canadian media, like Rosemary Barton?

Now, as Matt Gurney points out, Canada's losing this contest doesn't really matter. Unless...

Unless you count the millions of public dollars that Trudeau eagerly spent in campaigning for the seat. And the fact that he compromised Canadian principles, breaking a longtime pattern of not supporting anti-Israel resolutions at the UN while sweet-talking some pretty unsavoury world leaders in an attempt to win their votes. Not to mention the vast government resources he marshalled in pursuing his vanity project, even as Canada was dealing with a pandemic crisis of historic proportions.

Which is to say, Trudeau expended a lot of political and actual capital to demonstrate that he's beloved throughout the world and he ended up with egg on his face.

Even funnier, remember last week when we discussed Greta Thunberg's letter encouraging the UN electorate to lean on Canada and Norway for emission reduction concessions in exchange for votes? If it was actually leaned on, Norway has apparently ignored it, as it's just announced that they are full steam ahead on oil production since the price-per-barrel is on the rise.

What's next for Justin? Well, he'll probably get back to kicking the oil and gas industry for a bit, to vent some frustration. And then maybe he'll turn his focus to a snap election in the fall. Hopefully the Conservatives will have an actual leader by then.

Canadian Academics and the Money Pipeline

A few years back, at a meeting of the English department at a major Canadian university, the issue that excited the indignation of the department was the wide divergence between faculty salaries and the comparative pittance allotted to sessional instructors. My wife, a full professor and director of several committees over the years, proposed that tenured faculty might throw their support behind the part-time instructors, offering in the next round of collective bargaining to absorb a small pay cut in exchange for an increase in part-timer’s wages. After all, she reasoned, if departmental concern were to be more than mere virtue signaling or self-indulgent rhetoric, a modest fraction of bountiful faculty paycheques should not be too much to ask. Her suggestion was met with incredulous and patronizing laughter and was immediately dismissed.

This incident offers a window onto the mental landscape of many academics, especially in the humanities and social science programs—professors who are good with words but bad at moral principle, whose skill with language masks an inner spiritual vacuum and lack of compassion for those whom they pretend to champion.

But such academics, by and large, are not only lacquered hypocrites, they are both technological illiterates and economic simpletons. One of the latest issues now agitating the Canadian academic community—again, I speak primarily of the Humanities and Social Sciences departments, where practical ignorance is a bedrock feature—is the campaign against the country’s energy sector, chiefly in Alberta and Newfoundland.

Some 265 academics have signed an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau objecting to the bailout package the government is preparing for the oil and gas companies in financially-strapped Alberta. It seems obvious that the bailout is merely a sweetener toward the eventual extinction of the energy sector. The anti-oil profs would rather see the entire operation immediately scrapped. Instead, financial resources should be allocated to conservation, public transportation, fighting climate change “and other areas of mitigation and adaptation to global warming.” The fact that the most responsible science reveals that “global warming” is a handy myth fostered by those who would profit from Big Green is never considered.* 

 “Research shows,” our pedagogues inform us, “that investments in both social services and sustainable energy produce far more jobs than comparable investments in the capital-intensive oil and gas sector”—but such “research” remains conveniently unaddressed and thus impossible to analyze. Similarly, many of the claims made throughout the document are devoid of links or context. The signatories complain that the oil industry has received substantial government subsidies, but they do not mention that every country in the world supports its energy zone to maintain a level playing field, or that non-oil based companies, such as Canada’s aviation firm Bombardier, auto manufacturers like GM and Chrysler, scandal-plagued engineering giant SNC-Lavalin and others also benefit from significant government largesse. 

St John's harbor, Newfoundland.

As Tex Leugner, editor of the Action Alberta newsletter, indicates in a personal communication, mining (potash, diamond, uranium, etc.) and manufacturing are go unmentioned. “The implication of course is that only carbon based subsidies were included nationally.” In other words, why no focus on other extraction industries or the aforementioned subsidized companies with their “environmentally-unfriendly” cars, trucks, buses, airplanes, and heavy machinery tearing at Gaia’s bowels? The obsession with oil plainly trumps every other consideration in the effort to demolish the armature of daily existence. One takedown at a time.  

Moreover, it would seem highly doubtful that green investments would come even close to matching the jobs supplied by the oil and gas industry or equalling the $359 billion flowing from energy industries to government from 2000 to 2018. Citing Statistics Canada, the Financial Post points out that the energy industry outstripped banking, real estate and construction in corporate taxes alone. Conversely, Big Green, with its fetish on “renewables,” its soaring costs, and Solyndra-like boondoggles, thrives on subsidies, not royalties.

Interestingly, the lead authors of the letter, Laurie Adkin and Debra Davidson, are professors from an institution intimately at risk, the University of Alberta. Neither of these self-proclaimed authorities has any expertise in the energy sector, recognition of job-creating spinoffs, nor any business experience worth mentioning—unless Political Science and Environmental Sociology constitute areas of pertinent credibility. They are joined among the signatories by psychologists, epidemiologists , social workers, media and cinema types, artists, curators, librarians and urban planners—many of whom know nothing about the vital economic issues at hand.

Newfoundland finds itself in the same unenviable situation as Alberta. Its offshore oil industry, as Rex Murphy reports in the National Post, is to be “deferred indefinitely,” in effect killing the “roughly $7 billion Bay du Nord project… the first ‘deep water’ oilfield” in the country. In a rare instance of administrative common sense, Newfoundland’s Memorial University president Vianne Timmons spoke out in favor of the energy project: “If it’s important to Newfoundland, it’s important to Memorial University.” 

Her statement did not sit well with faculty, who viewed it as “very disappointing to see (a) kind of open-ended support” for the oil industry. Professor and faculty association executive Josh Lepawsky was predictably offended. “There’s a risk that this kind of open-ended support for the oil and gas industry voiced by the president may reduce or chill those who are critical of it, and that’s an imposition on academic freedom.” Anything the faculty does not like, apparently, is a threat against academic freedom. The complete non sequitur of his formulation was obviously lost on him, especially given how often university faculties voice anti-oil sentiments without risking academic freedom. (Timmons herself later softened her uncharacteristic prudence. "But we do have a climate crisis,” she conceded, “and we must also work on research, teaching and service in that area to try and improve our processes around energy.")

 That advancements in industry standards have rendered extraction and delivery safer than ever, that hundreds of thousands of jobs and working families depend on the survival of the energy sector, and that nothing less than national solvency is at stake escapes the coddled academic mindset. After all, academics can afford to pontificate. They are tenured or tenure-track; they are for the most part ignorant of the empirical world, having rarely worked with their hands, engaged in productive labor or experienced the risks attendant on business ventures or entrepreneurship; they enjoy hefty guaranteed salaries, annual raises and cushy pensions for long service. They need not fear layoffs or bankruptcies, and are by profession enamored of theory but alien to heuristic practice. To quote Nassim Nicholas Taleb from Skin in the Game, “If you give advice, you need to be exposed to losses from it.” 

I reiterate that I am speaking chiefly of academics who teach in the Humanities and the Social Sciences, professors who are sublimely oblivious of the fact that their salaries, benefits and facilities derive in large measure from the very quarter they will do everything in their power to shut down. The pipelines they would dismantle are the very pipelines that feed their incomes and pensions—which, as noted above, they will not share with their less fortunate colleagues—and that provide the buildings, offices, classrooms, appliances, heating, air conditioning, furniture, amenities, supplies and equipment without which they would find themselves out in the cold. As Neven Sesardić argues in When Reason Goes on Holiday, philosophers in particular and academics in general have a rather shaky connection to the exigencies of everyday life and should be more circumspect and humble when pronouncing on real-world matters. They should struggle “to break the grip of groupthink.” No matter. The workplace is the wokeplace.

We need also consider that these faculties have deteriorated from the classical model of rigorous and impartial education, having become propaganda outlets and disinformation centers serving the political left, useless, irrelevant or harmful with regard to the public good. Taxpayer funding is grossly wasted subsidizing departments that have bought into political correctness, cultural Marxism, radical environmentalism, global warming and the “social justice” epidemic at the expense of real learning and scholarly discipline, not to mention the resource industries on which the future of the country rests. 

To put it bluntly, most contemporary academics, with the differential exception of those in business (maybe), medicine and STEM, are parasites living off the sweat of other people’s labor. Their departments should be ruthlessly downsized and the money pipeline made to flow the other way, toward the sectors that actually contribute to the nation’s prosperity and well-being. Or, like my wife, once they grow aware of how far academia has fallen from intellectual rectitude and disinterested instruction, they should take early retirement and preserve their self-respect.

--------------------------------------

* In a previous article for The Pipeline, I referred readers to such reputable studies as  Elaine Dewar’s Cloak of Green, John Casey’s Dark Winter, Norman Rogers’ Dumb Energy and Bruce Bunker’s The Mythology of Global Warming: Climate Change Fiction vs. Scientific Facts, works whose findings would appear to be definitive. The real “climate deniers”—i.e., those who believe in Anthropogenic Global Warming and divestment from essential industries—might also consult Robert Zubrin’s magisterial Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism, Donna Laframboise’s acetylene exposé of the IPCC at the United Nations The Delinquent Teenager Who Was Mistaken for the World's Top Climate Expert, and Alan Carlin’s politically and scientifically informative Environmentalism Gone Mad. There are many other excellent studies and monographs on the subject, too numerous to mention here. I suspect that none of these books will find a home on any academic syllabus.

Canada: Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste

Last week I wrote about the fear among Democrats that the U.S. might be heading for a significant economic recovery before the election in November, such that the Trump campaign would be able to point to "the most explosive monthly employment numbers and gross domestic product growth ever" (in the words of Obama Administration senior advisor Jason Furman), and ride that good news to reelection. Well, yesterday morning we all woke up to news which suggests that that upward trajectory might be beginning. After months of catastrophe, with Great Depression-like unemployment figures, the May jobs report showed that the economy added 2.5 million jobs in that period, the most ever in a single month.

The news was so surprising that left-wing rags like the Washington Post had to frantically delete their pre-written tweets about how terrible the report was:

Of course, we aren't out of the woods yet. An unemployment rate of 13 percent is still pretty bad, even if things are heading in the right direction. And, as I argued last week, Joe Biden's willingness to squander our gains on his ideological program (or that of his advisors while he naps in the Lincoln Bedroom), including his announcement that he would definitively kill Keystone XL  pipeline upon entering the White House, should make us all wary about trusting him to save the economy.

Well, up in Canada we can see what it looks like to have people already in power whose instincts are invariably ordered toward ideology over job creation or the cost of living. We've already covered Trudeau's doubling the nation's carbon tax during the pandemic, a decision which ran counter to what basically every other nation in the world was doing. We also discussed his oil and gas aid package, which seemed ordered towards the end of an industry which accounts for roughly 10 percent of Canada's GDP.

This is the path Trudeau has committed his nation to, and it doesn't seem like it is going to slow down anytime soon. Dan McTeague, president of the indispensable Canadians for Affordable Energy, has been writing recently about the return of Justin Trudeau's college drinking buddy, Gerald Butts, who grew up to be an environmental activist, director of policy for then-Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, and eventually Trudeau's chief adviser. Butts, you may recall, was forced to resign in the run up to the 2019 election for his role in the SNC-Lavalin scandal.

Now that that election is over, McTeague reports that Butts is back in Ottawa serving on a new task force called Resilient Recovery. "The task force," explains McTeague, is "made up of green industry and environmental leaders [and] says its goal is to help seize a "once-in-a-generation" opportunity to build things in a “better” way post the COVID-19 pandemic." If you guessed that that means taking advantage of a crisis to get Canada even more entangled in the Green Energy industry than it already is and make it harder for oil and gas companies to operate, you win.

Butts: I'm ba-ack.

In the course of two articles, McTeague argues that Canadians should be aware of, and concerned by, this "green energy at any and all costs" task force, and especially by Butts' inclusion in it. Butts has the ear of the prime minister and a history of making life harder for Canadians. McTeague has taken the time to remind us of that history. In his first piece, he examines Butts' work in the McGuinty government in Ontario:

Gerry Butts is known as one of the architects of Dalton McGuinty’s disastrous Green Energy Act. The GEA hurt Ontarians (and is still hurting them), resulting in energy bills increasing by 70% from 2008 to 2016. Ontario’s claim to fame became its high energy rates - the highest in all of North America. Big manufacturers across the province began to flee for friendlier economic climates. Even former premier Kathleen Wynne said in her 2018 campaign that because of the Green Energy Act many families were having to choose between paying their energy bills and feeding their families.

The GEA originally promised the creation of 50,000 green energy jobs. The government later admitted that that number was not based on any formal analysis, that many of the jobs would be temporary, and that it did not account for the lost manufacturing jobs due to the increased energy prices. Wind and solar were incredibly expensive to produce... and the consumer was the one who had to make up the difference. How? Through a hidden tax euphemistically called the Global Adjustment Fee which suddenly started to appear on Ontario energy bills. A Global News article from 2016 stated that for every $100 in usage that appeared on your bill, $23 was actual electricity cost, while the other $77 was from the “Global Adjustment Fee”.

After a few years out of government, Butts jumped onboard the Trudeau train after the Liberals won their majority in 2015, and brought his wealth of experience making everyday life more expensive for Ontarians to Canadians more generally. That part of his career is covered in McTeague's second piece:

The costs of Butts’ climate agenda are apparent in the policies that the Trudeau government put in place during its first term, the most important (and destructive) of these being the carbon tax. It is no surprise that the mastermind behind the Ontario green energy debacle would help create expensive and ineffective policies at the federal level. The carbon tax adds at least 7 cents per litre of gas at the pump for Canadians. Because it applies to all energy sources, the hidden costs – on food and services and our competitiveness – will be even greater, and the carbon tax will increase annually by large increments.

Other expensive and anti-industry policies that were launched during Butts’ time in Ottawa include Bill C-69 (an overhaul of Canada's regulatory and resource project approval system) and C-48 (the oil tanker moratorium act). These have meant significant new and unnecessary regulatory burdens that restrict resource development, drive away investment, and have the effect of making energy more expensive.

Though Canada's May jobs numbers crept up somewhat, just like America's, Canada is still experiencing record unemployment. Bombardier just announced that they'ree laying off 2,500 workers. This is still a time of crisis, and for any recovery to be really resilient, it needs a laser focus on getting people back to work and getting the economy back on track. Gerald Butts' resumé speaks to the fact that he is more than willing to prioritize environmentalist virtue signalling over the benefit of ordinary Canadians.

Big Chiefs Vie for Supremacy in B.C.

If you want to get your way out west in the 21st century, but can't win at the ballot box, becoming a public nuisance is the next best thing. That's the message coming out of this past weekend's hi-jinks in Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, D.C., and elsewhere. It's also the message of the agreement the Liberal government in Ottawa and the socialist NDP government in British Columbia have recently struck with a handful of hereditary chiefs of the Wet’suwet’en Nation.

In case the pandemic and the George Floyd riots have pushed the recent history of the Wet’suwet’en out of your mind, let me quickly remind you of their situation. They are a First Nations community based in northwestern British Columbia, Canada, who found themselves at the center of a firestorm back in February. Protests erupted across Canada "in solidarity" with the Wet’suwet’en, who objected to the construction of the Coastal GasLink pipeline across their land. Or, at least, that was the narrative pushed by Canadian media. In reality, as Mike Smyth explained in B.C's The Province at the time,

The First Nations directly impacted by the Coastal GasLink pipeline — and the thousands of Indigenous people they represent — largely support the project. All 20 First Nations along the pipeline route have signed benefit-sharing agreements with the pipeline company through their elected band councils. That includes the multiple elected councils of the Wet’suwet’en First Nation. But the protesters have aligned themselves with five Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs opposed to the pipeline, and not the 13,000 Indigenous British Columbians represented by all the band councils that support it.

In fact, as I wrote back in February, roughly one-third of the people working on the pipeline are native, and a great many of the Wet’suwet’en people stand behind the elected chiefs who signed onto the original agreements with TC Energy. They were critical of those five hereditary chiefs who -- as Wet’suwet’en member Troy Young put it -- chose to do "everything via media and not following proper protocol." And they were grateful for the job opportunities afforded them by resource development on their land, and concerned about the consequences of killing or altering a multi-billion dollar project at such a late stage (Troy Young again: "If the project were to be halted, the loss would be probably insurmountable. Nobody's ever going to invest here again").

But the media delivered. Canadian news outlets like the CBC churned out wall-to-wall, breathless coverage of the plight of the five hereditary chiefs on the one hand (who, they continuously suggested, were really more legitimate than the elected chiefs, since democracy is a western import, although there has been a system in place for the election of chiefs for nearly 150 years) and of the occasional arrest of protesters for such minor offences as blockading major rail lines and arson). By the end of the month the federal and provincial governments felt compelled to sit down with the hereditary chiefs to hammer out a new agreement, with construction suspended while they did so.

And then the virus and the lockdowns came, sucking up all of the media oxygen for months. But while everyone was looking elsewhere, BC and Ottawa were continuing to negotiate. And then, without an announcement, a Memorandum of Understanding was agreed to by both sides in March, the details of which are only now coming out. And, from what we've seen of it, it has the potential, as Gary Mason writes in The Globe and Mail, first, "to fundamentally alter politics in this country forever," and second, "to be viewed, ultimately, as a horribly one-sided sellout by British Columbia and Ottawa."

The memorandum recognizes the hereditary chiefs over and above the elected chiefs, who weren't involved in the negotiations. This detail is remarkable, because it involves a significant shift in the locus of Indigenous power and and heightens the internal tensions among the Wet’suwet’en. But the more dramatic aspect of the agreement is that it recognizes the Wet’suwet’en as having title over its territory. As the hereditary chiefs explained in pitching the agreement to their people, “You will be the first Indigenous Nation in Canada to have recognition of your Aboriginal title over your territory by agreement.”

What that means in practice is to be worked out in negotiations over the next several months, but one key aspect of it seems to be that, at least as Mason reads that section, "the hereditary chiefs will have exclusive domain over natural-resource development" on that 22,000 square kms (13,670 square miles) of land. To get such a significant concession in a negotiation, you'd imagine that the hereditary chiefs would have to give up quite a lot. Well, you would be wrong -- at least in their words, they conceded “Absolutely nothing.” Including, as Mason emphasizes, "any promise to not continue blocking the [Coastal GasLink] pipeline from crossing their territory." He continues,

There are so many potential land mines in this agreement, it’s hard to know where to begin. But let’s start with how it gives power to hereditary chiefs over elected chiefs and their councils. In many cases, elected chiefs represent a new generation of Indigenous leadership. The hereditary chiefs who signed this agreement appear to be able to use their new power to stop the pipeline from crossing their land.... Hereditary chiefs elsewhere are undoubtedly going to see this agreement as precedent-setting. They will insist on the same powers. And that has the potential to undermine many other royalty-sharing agreements that elected band councils have signed with resource companies.

Getting here required good bit of of dirty pool from the hereditary chiefs. According to Chris Selley,

They have stripped pro-pipeline hereditary chiefs of their titles and installed anti-pipeline replacements. They did not keep promises — echoed by provincial and federal politicians — to at least run the memorandum of understanding by the rank and file. They wouldn’t even distribute draft copies.

And, of course, it has meant ignoring the wishes of ordinary members of the Wet’suwet’en nation. That being so, why are Victoria (capital of B.C., located just 75 miles across the water from Seattle) and Ottawa moving ahead with it? As Selley puts it,

[F]or the governments involved, this wasn’t about offering the Wet’suwet’en a better future. It was about putting out a fire: [Among other things, a] group of Mohawks thousands of kilometres away in eastern Ontario had blockaded CN’s main line in solidarity with the hereditary chiefs; and the Ontario Provincial Police, armed with an injunction demanding the blockade end, refused to lift a finger. Something had to give. Somebody had to get screwed, and it was the rank-and-file Wet’suwet’en. For no good reason whatsoever, the hereditary chiefs now hold all the keys to their future. It’s an appalling and appallingly predictable result.

We shall see what the outcome of all of this is. The details of the agreement are still being negotiated, and then it must be ratified by both sides. But it isn't looking good for the legitimately elected Wet’suwet’en leaders, nor their thousands of followers who are sick of the publicity and the games and just want to work. At this point the lesson of all of this, in Selley's words, is "make friends with the Ontario Mohawks. They pretty much run the country."

David Suzuki and the Great Climate Carnival

Radical environmentalism and "climate science" have become highly profitable for those who have taken upon themselves the role of the conscience of mankind. The hucksterism of our new-age evangelists has been preserved in amber in Sinclair Lewis’ Elmer Gantry, as pertinent today as it was in 1927. It’s a good read (and a great movie), exposing the confidence game of those who prey on the public’s gullibility, whether, like Gantry, they are selling farm equipment or flogging a seminarian’s version of probity—or in its current manifestation, appealing to the global conscience of the uninformed. As lucrative scams go, climate-and environment—or Big Green, for short—is hard to beat. 

Readers will be familiar with some of the more notable Gantrys in the climate trade. Al Gore is probably the most prominent of the climate camarilla, with a carbon footprint of Sasquatch proportions and highly dubious credibility. A UK court ruled that his global warming movie, An Inconvenient Truth, contained at least nine salient falsehoods, in particular with respect to his claim that Hurricane Katrina was caused by global warming. The court found that the film was scientifically unsound and little more than a form of “political indoctrination.” In his book, Media Madness: The Corruption of our Political CultureJames Bowman cites Gore and “other self-appointed trustees of the alleged Global Warming crisis in the pressure group, the Alliance for Climate Protection, [who] make money which they can then use to influence real political events, such as elections.” I have provided a close reading complete with sources about the shenanigans of Gore, et al. in my 2012 monograph Global Warning.

Canada does not lack for its share of green-celebrity hypocrites. One remembers the late Maurice Strong, with a net worth of $100 million, a leader in the international environmental movement, president of the council of the University for Peace and executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme—activities which one would expect to militate against acquiring his fortune as an unrepentant capitalist and investor in the oil and mineral industry and as CEO of Petro-Canada and Ontario Hydro. Apparently, Strong never experienced a moment of cognitive dissonance or a single pang of conscience as he marched along the royal road to prestige, acclaim and wealth, investing handsomely in what he publicly condemned.

Strong’s practice and example pale before the exploits and influence of David Suzuki. A fruit fly geneticist by training who once compared human beings to maggots, Suzuki repurposed himself as Canada’s reigning environmentalist and climate guru, a beloved TV personality, and a counselor to humankind. With a personal fortune of $25 million, this mini-Al Gore, is one of the more conspicuous barkers in the Canadian media and environmental carnival who preached some 20 years ago that we had only ten years before environmental collapse. Yet his vaticinal authority remains intact among the naïve and impressionable since he offers a signal example of theocracy at work in the presumably scientific domain. After all, we must believe in something, however fraudulent. 

A contemporary Savonarola, Suzuki expressed his inner totalitarian for all to see, stating on February 28, 2008 at a conference held at McGill University in Montreal that politicians should be jailed for denying “climate consensus.” Eight years later he was still on the moral rampage, declaring that then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper should serve prison time for “willful blindness” to global warming. True to form, Suzuki is a sworn enemy of Canada’s energy sector, comparing the oil sands industry in the province of Alberta to slavery, dismissing the devastating economic impact of its closure, and working to block every new pipeline proposal—for which the University of Alberta, an institution that stands most to lose from the assault against oil, has awarded him an honorary science degree. Go figure.

Suzuki has hosted The Nature of Things, a popular CBC television series, since 1979 and has gone on to almost every conceivable award and citation the world has to offer. Suzuki does look a bit like God in His Sistine incarnation, a resemblance which no doubt facilitates his attempt to remake the world in his own image. But journalist and author Ezra Levant claims with considerable credibility that Suzuki is profiting from multi-national American organizations that finance his campaigns against Canada’s oil sands production, as Vivian Krause shows in a damning exposé in the Financial Post from April 19, 2012.

According to Krause’s research, Suzuki has built his foundation with millions of U.S. dollars. The total value of the top 30 U.S. grants alone was US $9-million, equivalent to $13-million Canadian, including:

US$1.8-million from the William & Flora Hewlett Foundation (“Hewlett”), US$1.5-million from the David & Lucile Packard Foundation (“Packard”), US$1.7-million from the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation (“Moore”), US$1-million from the Wilburforce Foundation, US$955,000 from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, US$930,000 from the Seattle-based Bullitt Foundation and at least US$181,000 from the Philadelphia-based Pew Charitable Trusts.

As far as I can tell, Suzuki’s largest Canadian donor is the Claudine & Stephen Bronfman Foundation, which has granted at least $6-million (2000-10). Since 2008, Power Corp., the Lefebvre Foundation and the Trottier Family Foundation have given annual donations of at least $1-million. Anonymous donors are also reported for $1-million or more. For 2010, the Sitka Foundation, run by Ross Beaty and his family, gave $407,000 and the Jim Pattison Foundation gave $200,000.

As the Toronto Sun reported in October 2013, “Green sage David Suzuki has some expensive tastes for someone who wants to shut down the carbon economy within a generation…. Suzuki, who’s made a name for himself fighting for the environment and against development, owns four homes, [including] a sprawling mansion in the Kitsilano neighbourhood of Vancouver, worth approximately $8.2 million.” According to the Sun, he also owns property on two Gulf Islands, Quadra and Nelson, sharing the latter with a fossil fuels company, Kootenay Oil Distributors.

In a defensive response a week later, the David Suzuki Foundation, whose corporate motto is "One Nature," retorted:

For starters, please note: David Suzuki is not the head of a corporation. The David Suzuki Foundation is a registered Canadian charity and David Suzuki has never been a paid staff member. In fact, he is one of our most generous donors and volunteers. He has lived in the same house for decades, a home he has shared with his in-laws and in which he has raised his daughters.

As for the claim that David owns land with an “oil company”, we did what journalists are supposed to do before running a story. We checked with the company’s owners, a couple living on the Sunshine Coast. They told us the husband’s father ran the company in the 1950s and ’60s to distribute oil to households and small businesses, mostly for furnaces. When the company folded, they used the assets to buy into co-owned land on remote Nelson Island, and it has not operated as anything other than a holding company since the late 1960s. David and a friend, who knew nothing about the company, bought into the property many years ago with the express purpose of protecting it from development. He has made other investments in real estate to provide for his retirement and family.

We would also like to take a moment to set the record straight: Although Sun Media consistently refers to David Suzuki as a saint, he isn’t. He has received many awards and honours, including being named a Companion of the Order of Canada, but he has not been sainted or knighted, and he’s human, not infallible. He’s a 77-year-old grandfather who has devoted his life to communicating the wonders of science and finding solutions for our shared environmental problems. But mostly he’s a human doing what he can to make a positive difference.

We find it strange that anyone would be opposed to protecting the air, water, land and biodiversity that we need for our health and survival, but recent attempts to tarnish the reputation of David Suzuki, as well as the Foundation and other environmental groups, show that some people view short-term profit for the fossil fuel industry as more important than protecting the planet.

It seems he can do no wrong and remains a revered icon to most Canadians, true believers who have drunk the climate Kool-Aid liberally served up by our do-gooder educators, social justice missionaries and the hallowed saviors of mankind who proliferate among us. Those for whom climate and environment have assumed the force of an ersatz religion have undertaken no sustained inquiry into the subject, dismissing contrary evidence as purely heretical and not worth consulting. They have followed neither the data nor the money trail. North America's Elmer Gantrys are home free.

Authoritative volumes like Elaine Dewar’s Cloak of Green (now rendered unaffordable), John Casey’s Dark Winter, Norman Rogers’ Dumb Energy and Bruce Bunker’s The Mythology of Global Warming: Climate Change Fiction vs. Scientific Facts, among many other excellent studies, have been placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum of the Church of Environmentalism. When the environmental acolytes and climate votaries rise to a position of authority, like our current prime minister, who is determined to phase out the oil and gas industry that is a central pillar of the economy, the damage they can do is incalculable. 

And obviously, their efforts are abetted and empowered by the celebrity Greenies who have made their fortunes and reputations exploiting the rage for utopia that inspires the ignorant and deluded, those who seek perfection at the expense of reality. Suzuki is the poster boy for these enablers, the “go-to guy” for the country’s major political parties, in particular the Greens and the NDP. Suzuki famously feuded with Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last year over the pipeline issue:

It just shows what a joke the whole declaration of a climate emergency is. I mean, if it’s a climate emergency, first of all, when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, I don’t think the Republicans said, “Oh, that damn Democratic president wants to take us to war and is going to destroy the economy.” Everybody joins together in that emergency. It’s got one purpose, which is to win the battle.

The battle here is in terms of the amount of carbon that’s accumulating in the atmosphere. We’re way beyond and heading to a total by the end of this century that really puts into question whether human beings, as a species, will be able to survive. It is a climate crisis, but we’ve been saying that for over 30 years. And all of the posturing that’s going on, from Mr. Trudeau being elected, and Mr. Harper, who was prime minister for 9 and a half years, who never once said climate is an issue that we’ve got to take seriously. He said reducing greenhouse gas emissions is “crazy economics.”

It’s all about politics. It’s not a serious commitment to meet the climate challenge. And approving the pipeline is only–you know, what do we expect?

But they've recently made up as Trudeau’s Alberta-bashing, pipeline-busting antics have moved into high gear. It should come as no surprise that Suzuki, who is riding out the COVID pandemic in his posh Quadra Island residence, appears to have welcomed the crisis and its restrictions.

I was looking up at the sky today, and it was filled with geese … we’ve had pods of killer whales coming through, and I have the sense that Mother Earth is saying, ‘Phew, thank God, these busy people are giving me a break,’” Suzuki said. “And I hope that people who live in places like Shanghai and Beijing, in Delhi or Bombay, are looking up and seeing what it can be like when air is the way it should be, invisible and odourless.

Such a childish fantasy should be enough to put the ancient oracle out to pasture, and the entire climate-and-environment boondoggle along with him. But, of course, it won't.

Understanding Justin: A Genealogical Approach

In order to understand the bizarre actions and behavior of Justin Trudeau (b. 12/25/71), Canada’s child emperor, one needs to know where he is coming from, the influences he imbibed growing up, and the pursuits he engaged in prior to entering politics. Such has already been attempted by journalist Jonathan Kay in an ingratiating article in Canada’s left-wing culture magazine The Walrus. Kay shed an editorial tear over Trudeau’s abandonment by his mother Margaret, admired Justin's alleged resilience and marveled over Trudeau’s book-lined shelves, considering him impressively learned and endowed with intellectual heft. “Trudeau probably reads more than any other politician I know,” Kay effused. 

As a former editor at the National Post, Kay is surely aware that Justin is a mental lightweight compared to credentialed heavyweights such as recent Party leaders Stephen Harper, Stéphane Dion or Michael Ignatieff, scholars in their respective intellectual fields. A master of slavish extenuation, Kay explains that his subject’s “boyish, eager-to-please personality leads him to project publicly in a way that can seem intellectually unsophisticated.” The problem happens to be that Justin is indeed intellectually unsophisticated. Despite a few pro forma criticisms, Kay’s tribute was no exception to the partisan adulation that helped propel a self-infatuated tyro to 24 Sussex.

Trudeau’s father, flamboyant former Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau (1919-2000), was a dominating figure in Canada’s political theater but in many ways a disaster for the country. His opening the doors of immigration wide to the Third World in an effort to dilute the push for Québec independence, as Salim Mansur observes in Delectable Lie, was a grievous mistake, and we are suffering the aftermath today with a robust Muslim enclave roiling the nation’s peace and depleting its welfare resources. His repatriation of the Constitution in 1982 (which allowed Canada to change its basic law without approval from Great Britain) was also, in the opinion of many, a serious mistake, in effect adding fuel to the fire of the French Mouvement souverainiste du Québec that Trudeau wished to extinguish.

Chip off the old block?

His passing of the National Energy Program (NEP) in 1980 at the expense of Alberta’s economic health was another catastrophe, costing Alberta, as Paul Koring writes in iPolitics, “$100 billion and set[ting] exploration and extraction back by decades,” while serving to alienate Western Canada to the present day. Moreover, as Gwyn Morgan writes in the Financial Post, “During the 15 years that Pierre Trudeau was prime minister, federal spending rose from 30 to 53 percent of GDP.” His avowedly leftist politics and close friendships with dictators like Fidel Castro were a severe blow to the country’s democratic identity and Loyalist patrimony. Such is the elder Trudeau’s legacy to Canada.

Justin’s mother Margaret, née Sinclair, in her youth a Jacqueline Kennedy-type beauty, is now an advocate for sufferers from bipolar disorder. She is also remembered as a 1970s “wild child,” dancing at Studio 54, doing drugs, partying with the Rolling Stones, hobnobbing with the famous, enjoying various “relationships,” and abandoning her family in 1977, when Justin was still a little boy, before divorcing Pierre in 1984. In her memoir The Time of Your Life, she candidly confesses her “inner teenager” and her “passion for the present [that] has given me a joie de vivre and an ability to savour the various phases of my life.” She recalls her divorce from her much older husband:

I was a free-spirited hippie who yearned for wide-open spaces. He was disciplined and austere, and as prime minister of Canada, virtually had the weight of the nation on his shoulders. I didn’t really mature until I was in my fifties, and as a result, I spent years of my adult life doubting my ability to be truly responsible.

Like mother, like son?

Though she is now restored to responsibility and involved in public projects, her influence on her son’s formative years along with a possible genetic contribution must count for something. No one escapes one’s mother.

Justin’s leftist sensibility clearly owes much to his father. His cataclysmic increase of the national debt and deficit is bred in the bone, as is his animus against Western Canada, formidably expressed in his destruction of Alberta’s oil and gas industry. “No country of Canada’s size, geography and climate could exist in its current form without cheap and plentiful coal, oil and natural gas,” warns David Yager in From Miracle to Menace: Alberta, A Carbon Story, but “investor confidence has been crushed” by confiscatory taxes, choking regulations and the banning of tankers and pipelines. And as Gwyn Morgan points out, “Justin Trudeau won’t admit that, like his dad, his ideology is one of tax-and-spend, anti-business and anti-Alberta-oil… It’s perfectly clear from his actions he is indeed his father’s son.”

 Here I would add a caveat. The elder Trudeau was educated and accomplished, a graduate of several prestigious universities, a practicing lawyer and a founder of the influential critical review Cité Libre. The younger was a substitute high school drama teacher, nightclub bouncer and snowboarding instructor. As Edward Dougherty writes in a brilliant article for American Affairs treating in part the educational deficiencies of our political leaders, “Certainly, one cannot expect good political leadership from someone ignorant of political philosophy, history, or economics, or from someone lacking the political skill to work productively amid differing opinions.” This remark sums up Justin rather accurately. Nonetheless, he remains his father’s son, equally misguided, though without the erudition. He has his father’s insouciance but not his father’s substance.

At the same time, judging from the preposterous nature of his official and ideological acts—imposing a punitive and unnecessary carbon tax upon the country, sending needed PPE as well as cash to China (of all places) and the tarnished W.H.O., adhering to feminist doctrine and a parity cabinet ("Because it’s 2015," as he fatuously explained at the time), awarding $10.5 million plus apology to a Muslim terrorist, etc.—and his nonsensical personal behavior—preening in blackface, sitting humbly beside fake hunger artist and Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence in her teepee on Victoria Island, sporting Muslim-themed socks while attending a Pride Parade, prancing about in Bollywood gear during a diplomatic visit to India, etc.—Trudeau also reveals himself as his mother’s son, a “free spirit” and irresponsible adolescent.

Writing in the National Post, Canada’s premier columnist Rex Murphy points out that Trudeau has spent the last two months “governing” from his cottage steps in the Gatineau Hills near Ottawa, delivering daily pronouncements while communicating with 28 world leaders in his quest for a temporary seat on the U.N. Security Council. The major hurdle, it appears, involves the approval of Fiji. “This is geopolitics as it is played by the masters,” Murphy quips, “Do we have Fiji on our side?” Meanwhile, unaccountable “billions upon billions are gushing out of Cottage life.” This is giddiness at the highest level. Trudeau was abandoned by his mother at the impressionable age of six. It seems he is repeating his childhood trauma with a frivolity reminiscent of his mother by abandoning the country he was elected to serve.

The only political advantages Justin Trudeau possesses are his mother’s good looks and his chic adherence to the “social justice” fads of the day. But he is, in my estimation, the worst prime minister in the history of the Canadian Confederation, as a perusal of Arthur Lower’s Colony to Nation or Michael Bliss’ Right Honourable Men should confirm. It is hard to find anyone in this disparate group more risible than Trudeau, including the ingenuous Joe Clark or the hapless Kim Campbell.  

Jim Gehl, a commentator at The Pipeline, says that Justin’s “focus as Prime Minister has really been in three areas, gender equality, indigenous rights and climate change,” ditzy initiatives of which his mom would surely approve. But he is also an “economic illiterate,” very much like his dad whose fiscal mismanagement was arguably the Achilles heel of his stewardship. Admittedly, pop psychology is always as tempting as it is facile, but common sense suggests that Trudeau’s observable conduct indicates a strong parental character derivation. The apple doesn’t fall far from the genealogical tree. 

A socialist and a socialite, Justin Trudeau has inherited his father’s demagogic politics and his mother’s feckless temperament, producing the cerebrally devastating cocktail we see in his current policies and behavior. His latest escapade is typical of an authoritarian personality ungrounded in reality, as exemplified by his announcement to develop and import, in collaboration with the Chinese company CanSinoBio, the Ad5-nCov coronavirus vaccine. Canada is the only nation to sign such an agreement with China, irrespective of the fact that China is where the virus originated and was allowed to spread while its nature was hidden. In true despotic fashion, and in violation of the Constitution, Trudeau is now contemplating making the vaccine mandatory for Canadians.

The country can scarcely survive so Harlequinesque a leader performing in a commedia dell’arte of national proportions, a ridiculous figure cavorting on the brink of the country’s fiscal implosion, health-policy imbecility and coming disintegration. As David Yager writes, “In Canada, the future is here today, and it is ugly.”

Biden Vows to Kill Keystone XL if Elected

Back before he went into hiding, Joe Biden was notorious for making confusing statements which his spokesmen had to "clarify" later, while pretending that they'd been distorted by conservative media. Not that he's actually stopped doing this since the DNC began using the lockdowns as a pretense for hiding him in his basement in Delaware (a tactic which seems to be working for them at the moment, but which they can't keep up through November). While criticizing Donald Trump's response to the coronavirus pandemic, Biden told ABC News a few weeks ago, "We have to take care of the cure. That will make the problem worse, no matter what. No matter what. We know what has to be done." Uh, sure Grandpa.

But there was nothing confusing about the statement put out by the Biden campaign (of course not delivered by the candidate himself) vowing to kill the Keystone XL Pipeline project should he be elected president next November.

“Biden strongly opposed the Keystone pipeline in the last administration, stood alongside President Obama and Secretary Kerry to reject it in 2015, and will proudly stand in the Roosevelt Room again as President and stop it for good by rescinding the Keystone XL pipeline permit,” Biden campaign policy director Stef Feldman said in a written statement to POLITICO.

In case you've forgotten, Keystone XL is a project of the Canadian oil firm TC Energy, the object of which is to safely transport Canadian crude from Alberta down to refineries in the U.S. It is, in fact, the fourth Keystone pipeline, and when completed it will be able to transport more oil (because it is larger) more quickly (because it travels a less circuitous route) than the already operational other three. Unfortunately for TC Energy, stopping Keystone XL became a cause célèbre for the Left during Barack Obama's presidency, and so the Obama Administration slow-walked the permit process for years until officially rejecting it after six years of review. Donald Trump breathed new life into the project after his election, but it has remained in legal limbo throughout the course of his first term.

Just a few thoughts on his announcement:

  1. Part of Biden's appeal is that he's supposedly this scrappy, working class, down-to-earth, Irish Catholic guy from Scranton, Pa., son of a used car salesman, yadda yadda yadda. But here he is, during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, promising to kill steady, hardworking jobs (in two countries!) because it'll make well-connected environmentalists happy?
  2. Even Democrats are starting to acknowledge that the former Vice President isn't all there. Even if it were true that his instincts are more geared towards the working man than the wine-and-caviar set that Hillary Clinton appealed to, this kind of announcement should give you a sense of who will actually be doing the governing while President Biden retreats further into his dotage.
  3. Keystone XL is popular in Canada, so much so that the then-newly elected prime minister, Justin Trudeau, a self-proclaimed environmentalist, felt compelled to object when Obama originally killed the project. Canada is our second largest trading partner, and our largest -- China -- is increasingly unpopular in the U.S., for obvious reasons, so much so that calls for our relationship with that nation to be drastically reevaluated are coming in hot and heavy. Would it really be wise for Biden -- whose foreign policy experience supposedly got him the nod as Obama's veep -- to antagonize an ally in such an environment?

Then again, former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates famously said that Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades." As his Keystone XL announcement demonstrates, his domestic and trade policy instincts are just as reliable.

Like Father, Like Son

For all the pearl clutching about Boris Johnson, Viktor Orbán, or even Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer (whatever one thinks of their actions) using this pandemic to introduce irreversible authoritarianism into their respective polities, among western political leaders it is likely Justin Trudeau who has done the most to exploit the present crisis to implement his preferred policies.

He has played it perfectly. As Canadians were watching frantic news reports about the apparently-impending collapse of New York City's hospitals and worrying that Toronto and Montreal were next, Trudeau was doubling his country's carbon tax. As they were processing the biggest one month increase in unemployment in decades, he was releasing an oil and gas aid package (for a sector that makes up roughly 10% of Canada's economy) which was clearly ordered toward ending that industry. And most recently, as Canadians continue to shelter in place and congratulate themselves on their general superiority to their American cousins, as evidenced by their lower COVID-19 death-rate (a questionable metric, since subtracting de Blasio's New York leaves the two nations on similar footing), Trudeau has introduced a program for helping Canadian businesses through this time which specifically requires any company that participates to slash their carbon emissions.

In a news release titled "Prime Minister announces additional support for businesses to help save Canadian jobs," the Trudeau government outline a new four-point plan that is aimed to help businesses through the pandemic. This will be done mainly through the new Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) "to provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going."

Trudeau said that oil and gas companies will be expected to put forward a frame that shows their commitments to reducing emissions and fighting climate change to be eligible for the LEEFF. Companies which avail themselves to the LEEFF subsidies will need to make a commitment to the fight against climate change. "We have seen many oil and gas companies make commitments already around net-zero by 2050, around understanding that we need to do better in terms of reducing emissions both as a country and as a sector. That's why we're expecting them to put forward a frame within which they will demonstrate their commitments to reducing emissions and fighting climate change," said Trudeau of the funding.

John Ivison argued last week that the unveiling of LEEFF "should have been a moment of consensus, a rare instant of accord," but that Trudeau's Liberals had to go and ruin it because they "couldn’t resist the chance to indulge their relentless wooing of left-of-centre voters." This is true enough, but it undersells Trudeau's ambitions.

Trudeau and his advisors have not forgotten that they lost their majority in the election this past Fall, and only stayed in power because the incompetence of the Conservative Party (specifically its failure to capitalize on Trudeau's SNC-Lavalin and blackface scandals, and leader Andrew Scheer's ambiguous relationship with social conservatism, which alienated social liberals and conservative alike) kept them from making inroads in Ontario and Quebec. Even so, the Liberals only govern at the pleasure of the opposition parties, and while they are enjoying sky high approval ratings at the moment, largely due to the rally-round-the-flag effect related to the pandemic, they know that that can't last.

This scenario echoes, to a certain extent, the situation in which Pierre Trudeau, architect of modern Canada and Justin's father, found himself in the late 1970s and early 1980s. By 1979 the elder Trudeau had been Prime Minister for 11 years, and the nation was tired of him. More than anyone else, he embodied Canada's conscious rejection of its past after the Second World War, but his years in power saw unemployment rise, the value of the Canadian dollar fall, and the Treasury strained by what Conrad Black called in his monumental history of Canada, Rise to Greatness, "Trudeau's giveaways to buy votes, especially in Quebec."

Regular Canadians were hurting, and that came to be more important to them than the suave, sophisticated figure Trudeau presented on the world stage. Joe Clark, the youthful (he was 39) and relatively inexperienced Tory Leader, hammered him on pocketbook issues in the election that year and came away with a minority government. That inexperience, however, came back to haunt the Tories a few months later when they introduced their first budget, which hiked taxes significantly in the hopes of cutting the deficit (including the introduction of an 18-cent per gallon gasoline tax -- the more things change, the more they stay the same).

Trudeau had already announced his intention to retire as Liberal leader, but he couldn't resist the opportunity to rally opposition to Clark's budget behind the scenes. As Black put it, "Trudeau smelled the blood of his enemies." Clark, meanwhile, took its passage for granted, not insisting that an MP who was overseas return to Ottawa for the vote, or postponing it (as a more skilled parliamentarian would have done) when opposition began to build. Finally, on December 13th, the budget came up for a vote, and Clark lost 139-133. His government fell less than a year after it had come into power (in the Westminster system, budget votes function as de facto confidence votes), and Trudeau -- who quickly rescinded his resignation --won a resounding victory in the election in early 1980.

Trudeau knew that this was his last bite at the apple of power and he was resolved to make it count. He pushed through major structural changes in the way Canada operated, including the introduction of the National Energy Program (NEP), which mandated that Canada's western provinces sell its oil and natural gas to the rest of the country at below market rates. Of course shortly after the NEP passed the price of oil fell worldwide from its post-Iranian Revolution highs, and consequently that program is estimated to have cost Alberta alone between $50 and $100 billion. It was repealed by the Mulroney government in the latter half of the decade, but it set back the finances of the oil producing provinces and inspired western discontent which has lasted to this day.

Even more significantly, Trudeau finally attained a goal he'd been working towards throughout much of his time as prime minister with the passage of the Constitution Act of 1982, which, among other things, introduced a bill of rights, known as the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter effectively superseded the extant Constitution. It centralized political authority in Ottawa and massively increased the authority of judges. It was fairly explicitly written as a liberal answer to the U.S. constitution, adopting certain aspects of the American document while leaving little room for interpretations which might benefit conservatives. One Canadian friend of mine likes to say that the Charter is the method by which Pierre Trudeau "continues to govern us from beyond the grave."

The complementary stories of Trudeau père et fils illustrates the danger of conservatives snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Pierre Trudeau was blessed to have Clark as an opponent, and the same can be said for Justin with Scheer (the scope of whose poor political instincts became even more apparent after the election). Clark's ill-conceived budget, and his mismanagement of it in the House of Commons, was an own goal which ended in an unearned return to power for the Liberals and an opportunity for Pierre to transform Canadian politics forever. His son aspires to build a similar legacy, and he is currently seizing upon the windfall of the pandemic to bring that about. While not all of his bold moves have been successful, nor have they been entirely limited to the environment, the biggest feather in his cap would be the managed decline of the oil and gas industry.

Lets hope that the Conservative Party can get its act together quickly, because otherwise history is going to repeat itself.

Alberta's Petrochemicals Protecting Canada

The collapse in oil prices combined with the virus and the lockdowns are hitting the Canadian province of Alberta extremely hard. Some are even predicting the worst economic contraction in its history. But I was glad to read in the Financial Post about one bright spot in the province's economy at the moment, its petrochemical sector which produces a variety of plastic products that are in high demand at the moment:

In 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the government would move to ban single-use plastics such as shopping bags, cutlery and straws to curb the proliferation of plastic waste in landfills and oceans. Now, in the middle of a public health crisis, the demand for plastic packaging has exploded. In Alberta’s oilpatch, ethane crackers used to make polyethylene film are among the only facilities that are busier today than before the pandemic knocked out global oil demand and led to hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil being shut in.

“The demand for plastic packaging has never been higher than it is right now,” said Bob Masterson, president and CEO of the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada, noting that the evidence of the huge demand for the industry’s products is plain at any grocery store in the country. Some grocery stores that had previously banned or started charging for plastic bags have eased those policies as workers are concerned about handling re-usable grocery bags. Acrylic plastic shields have been installed at tills to separate cashiers from shoppers, both of whom are wearing plastic gloves and masks in increasing numbers.... Masterson said the current crisis has led to “an absolute boom in the demand for packaging,” as grocery stores and consumers are wrapping food in plastic to prevent surface contamination of foods from the coronavirus.

Plastics, of course, aren't the only timely products produced by petrochemicals. Another is isopropyl alcohol:

I think it has shown some vulnerabilities in Canada’s supply chain,” Masterson said, noting that Shell Canada Ltd.’s Sarnia plant is the only producer of isopropyl alcohol in Canada, used to make alcohol-based cleaning products such as hand sanitizers. Shell president and CEO Michael Crothers said in a March 31 release the company would donate 125,000 litres of isopropyl alcohol, which is “approximately enough to create nearly one million 12-oz bottles of hand sanitizer for use in hospitals and medical facilities....

In Alberta, successive governments have implemented incentives designed to attract more petrochemical investment in an effort to diversify the province’s economy and build out the supply chain for hydrocarbon production. An incentive program introduced by former NDP premier Rachel Notley resulted in both Inter Pipeline Corp. and Pembina Pipeline Corp. spending $8.5 billion combined on under-construction polypropylene facilities, which will turn the province’s abundance of propane into plastic pellets used in a range of consumer goods.

The article notes that there is some question as to whether the industry will continue to boom once the pandemic and the lockdowns are over, and that is a real concern should the Greens return to form. The environmentalists are working hard to keep the "climate emergency" front and center, and even to link the two. But from where I sit, this pandemic definitively demonstrates the necessity of this industry, and the people talking about managing its decline are nuts.